Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Chiefs withstand Southern Kings comeback

Lelia Masaga scored three tries in the Chiefs' win over the Southern Kings. Photo/Ben Fraser
Lelia Masaga scored three tries in the Chiefs' win over the Southern Kings. Photo/Ben Fraser

Chiefs 35
Southern Kings 24

The Chiefs have secured a bonus point victory against the Southern Kings, but had to withstand a big comeback from the home side, which was expected to struggle against the defending champions.

Dave Rennie's men were again on the wrong side of a penalty count, with replacement halfback Augustine Pulu sent to the sinbin in the second half for a professional foul.

During that time the Kings scored a try and penalty and the margin was only eight points with eight minutes to go.

Gareth Anscombe had the chance to increase the Chiefs' lead but was off target with a penalty and the Chiefs had to withstand a torrid finish from the home side in front of a big crowd at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. He found his range in the final couple of minutes to seal the win.

The Kings could have caused more problems but for poor handling, however they will be buoyed by their performance.

The Chiefs, with Liam Messam celebrating his 100th game, had too much firepower - Lelia Masaga scoring three tries - but the Kings hung in there thanks to good scrambling defence and Demetri Catrakilis' goalkicking.

Their wing, 18-year-old speedster Sergeal Pietersen, scored a popular 90m try just before halftime when capitalising on a misunderstanding between Aaron Cruden and Masaga, and No8 Jacques Englebrecht dived over from close range after Pulu's departure.

Sam Cane scored the other Chiefs try in the second half after replacing the injured Ross Filipo, the No8 limping off with what looked like an ankle injury.

The five competition points, plus the two in the narrow defeat by the Stormers last weekend, in which the Chiefs had two men sinbinned, represents a respectable haul as Rennie's men prepare to travel home to Hamilton. They are second on the table on 17 points, behind the Brumbies - who play the Sharks in Durban overnight - on 18.

Rennie will be happy with the enthusiasm in the first half, but probably not as impressed with the inaccuracy which allowed the Kings - in their debut season - to get a foothold on the game.

On Friday night the Chiefs face the winless Highlanders at Waikato Stadium.

Chiefs 35 (Lelia Masaga 3, Sam Cane tries; Gareth Anscombe 3 cons, 3 pens).
Kings 24 (Sergeal Pietersen, Jacques Englebrecht tries; Demetri Catrakilis con, 4 pens).

Half time: 18-13.

- APNZ

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